Steve Blum: AT&T kills wired broadband service for half a million Californians
By Steve Blum
AT&T kills wired broadband service for half a million Californians
By Steve Blum
Tellus Venture Associates
Special to Santa Cruz Tech Beat
October 22, 2020 — Santa Cruz, CA
AT&T’s decision to stop selling legacy DSL service – the sort that uses 1990s technology and rides on regulated phone lines – affects 547,000 Californians, 1.4% of the state’s population. 67,000 of them will completely lose the ability to buy residential wireline broadband service from a commercial provider. Rural counties will be hit hard, with Tuolumne County taking the stiffest punch: 3.4% of its population will no longer be able to get wireline broadband service at any speed. Those that have it can keep it for now, but no one can buy it any longer. The full table is below.
In our region, San Benito County won’t be affected. AT&T has upgraded its systems in the northern half of the county to at least early 2000’s vintage technology. The very rural southern half is served by Pinnacles Telephone Company, the smallest independent rural telephone company in California. Santa Cruz and Monterey counties will be hit, though. One thousand people in Santa Cruz County (0.4% of the population) and 1,200 people in Monterey County (0.3% of the population) will no longer be able to buy wireline broadband service.
These numbers are based on the most recent broadband service reports published by the California Public Utilities Commission, which are current as of 31 December 2018. The reports filed by AT&T show that legacy DSL service is its only wired broadband offering in 6,600 census blocks with a total population of 547,000 people. However, people living in most of those blocks can get broadband service from a cable company or an independent fiber to the premise provider.
Subtract them out, and there are 67,000 people in 1,300 census blocks in California where AT&T is pulling the plug on new customers with no cable company or independent wireline ISP to fill the gap. A few of those census blocks could be split between AT&T and another telco, so the actual number of people affected might be a bit lower. But not by much.
AT&T reports providing broadband service in 52 of California’s 58 counties. It has legacy DSL systems in 43 counties. The nine fully upgraded counties include several rural ones where AT&T has a minimal presence – e.g. Plumas County where it serves a single census block – or where independent rural telephone companies serve the remotest areas.
About half of the soon-to-abandoned census blocks are outside of an incorporated city or an unincorporated “census designed place”, which usually means the area is rural. The remaining half includes many unincorporated rural communities as well.
Californians losing access to AT&T wireline broadband service
|County||Total people served by AT&T||People losing AT&T wireline service||People with no wireline alternative||% of population with no wireline service|
|San Luis Obispo||210,845||39,685||9,319||3.3%|